CHICAGO – Oct. 27, 2020 – Today, lawyers for Paul Rusesabagina filed a claim in front of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) in Arusha, Tanzania, detailing his illegal arrest, kidnapping, and extraordinary rendition by the Rwandan government, and alleging other violations of his fair trial rights.
Mr Rusesabagina asked the EACJ to order the Rwandan authorities to immediately release him, and permanently stay the proceedings against him in Rwanda.
Rwanda is a member of the East African Community, alongside Burundi, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, having signed the 1999 East African Community Treaty. The underlying principles of the East African Community include adherence to universally accepted standards of human rights.
The EACJ can hear disputes arising from the 1999 Treaty, including whether a State has breached, infringed, or violated the provisions of the Treaty. Mr Rusesabagina’s illegal kidnap on 27 August 2020 and extraordinary rendition from Dubai to Kigali not only breached the 1999 Treaty provisions, but demonstrated Rwanda’s prioritisation of silencing critics over compliance with international law and human rights.
If the Rwandan government had any substantiated or legitimate allegations against Mr Rusesabagina, it could have followed established procedures for his lawful extradition from the United States to Rwanda. Its decision to resort to kidnapping demonstrates the weakness of the allegations against Mr Rusesabagina. It also forms part of a long-established pattern of illegal treatment of political opponents of the Rwandan regime.
According to lawyer for Mr. Rusesabagina, Philippe Larochelle, “Rwanda’s membership of the East African Community means that it is bound to promote and protect human rights, and adhere to the principles of the rule of law, accountability and transparency. When the Rwandan government kidnaps a person, leaves him tied and bound for days, and subjects him to an illegal and extraordinary rendition, it is breaching these obligations. The East African Community exists to ensure that its member States cannot be allowed to act like this, and the EACJ provides a legal mechanism for Rwanda to be held to account”.
Mr. Rusesabagina’s claim includes a request for the EACJ to urgently consider the measures sought.